‘Madrid squad welcomed Benitez exit’

The majority of the Real Madrid squad was pleased to see Rafa Benitez leave the club in favour of Zinedine Zidane, it’s reported.

Zidane was on Monday evening confirmed as Los Blancos’ new trainer, replacing Benitez, who was sacked after seven months in charge.

Marca reports that Pepe was effectively the only player in the Madrid squad who really defended Benitez during what was a tenure marked by disagreements with the players.

It’s noted that Benitez at one point or another fell out with Cristiano Ronaldo and Sergio Ramos, the two biggest voices in the locker room.

James Rodriguez, Isco and Jese are described as the most relieved of the squad as their relationships with Benitez were ‘broken’.

Benitez took issue with their perceived attitudes and dropped James for what proved to be his last game in charge, against Valencia, and preferred Mateo Kovacic over either Isco or James as a replacement.

James was accused by Benitez and his staff of being unfit, while Isco ran afoul of Benitez when he joked around on the bench, expressing mocking surprise that Toni Kroos had been named as a substitute.

Marca reveals the Madrid squad would make fun of Benitez for his lack of success as a player, dubbing him ‘the No 10,’ an issue with which Zidane won’t have to contend.

Zidane also has experience working with much of the squad as Carlo Ancelotti’s assistant in the 2013-14 season, which ended with Madrid winning their 10th European Cup.

The former France international is also close to Raphael Varane and Karim Benzema, Marca says, and was instrumental in their decisions to move to Santiago Bernabeu, and the pair are among those said to have been unhappy under Benitez in recent weeks.

Tags Rafa Benitez